About a month or so ago (in November) for Funeral Practice I, we went to Brown-Wilbert,Inc. (formerly: Chandler-Wilbert) Corporate Headquarters in Roseville, Minnesota. They are a vault company with locations throughout Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula in Michigan.
They told us about their company and how they produce their products (vaults), their customization capabilities, and their cremation/urns merchandise. It was really informative. I actually didn’t think I would enjoy it as much as I did. I can’t tell you all the specifics because there was so much industrial manufacturing jargon, but I do remember the following:
–They make and mix their own concrete on-site, which is (apparently) rare (almost all other vault companies purchase their concrete ready made from a supplier).
–They patented their formula for the concrete they use and there are only two patents issued for their “recipe.” It’s a ‘7 bag’ concrete (other vault companies use ‘5 bag’ concrete) with 13 gallons of added water as opposed to the typical 18 gallons.
–They make the longest lasting concrete vaults. It surpassed all previous hydrostatic pressure tests for impermeability and protection from outside elements and can last 1.89 million years according to the company’s most recent 4 year study. So, they are the only vault company that offers a lifetime warranty on all their products.
I was very impressed with their attitude too; they are very committed to meeting their customers every request down to the last detail. John told us, “If you want something specific and we don’t offer it then we will find away to make it happen. We have yet to be unsuccessful in meeting a family’s request in 89 years.” That was just not something I was expecting from a vault company. The managers and foremen as well as the other staff we met were great. The company even provided lunch, shirts with their logo/name and the phrase “Drive safely. We can wait” (which was part of the (healthcare/deathcare) industries attempt to address and provide a memorable reminder about reckless driving and car accidents especially when the “buckle up” legislation had been enacted), flashlight pens and keepsake urns (heart-shaped) for all of us.
Anyway, all and all I know a bit more about vaults and vault construction. Oh also, FYI while we’re on the topic:(common misconception) vaults (or grave liners) aren’t actually required by federal or state law; it’s the choice of the individual cemetery. Cemeteries often require them in order to decrease maintenance cost due to grave sinking as well as other liability issues [such as personal injury on the premises, mixing of graves due to collapsing, damaged monuments]. Anyway, if your cemetery requires a vault, you can choose to use an Orthodox style graveliner (a bottomless vault) or turn a regular vault upside down if you are concerned about allowing natural decomposition.
The next field trip: Northwestern Casket Company.